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Carpet Water Damage

This section of the carpetbuyershandbook.com examines flood damaged carpet, water intrusion, flood classification, carpet warranty, sanitary flooding, unsanitary flooding, black water, home owners insurance, carpet cushion (carpet padding), padding, flooding types, and carpeting restoration.

Carpet Water Damage

Water intrusion affecting carpet and other floor coverings is among the most difficult situations faced by a homeowner or building manager. There is no standard procedure for dealing with every flooding situation. Each crisis must be evaluated on a case by case basis. Every flooding situation will have its own distinguishing problems. There are a number of standard questions that must be addressed in evaluating the proper protocol for returning the carpet to its pre-flood status. The primary question that must be addressed is the type of flooding that has occurred, sanitary, unsanitary, or black water.

Sanitary Flooding

The carpet must be treated with a disinfectant following extraction of excess water. Most homeowners insist that the carpet should be replaced in all flooding situations but this is usually not necessary in the case of sanitary flooding. A few simple guidelines may be followed to insure the carpet can be returned to pre-flood conditions.

  1. Traffic on the wet carpet should be kept to a minimum until the carpet is completely dry. The latex that holds the primary and secondary backings together is weakened when wet. Excessive traffic on the carpet may cause delamination. The latex should regain most of its strength after drying.
  2. Action should be taken immediately to shut-off and control the source of the water. It may be necessary to punch small holes in the drywall to release any standing water that has accumulated within the walls. It is impractical to begin restoration efforts prior to identification and elimination of the water source.
  3. Quickly remove any furnishings that may stain or damage the carpet.
  4. Immediately contact a professional restoration technician to perform the work.
  5. Extraction of excess water should begin immediately and the carpet should be completely dry within 12 hours following intervention. Failure to follow these recommendations may allow for the development of several types of bacteria and fungi that may negatively affect human health. To reduce the possibility of this occurrence, the application of a disinfectant to the face fiber is recommended. Many of these treatments will destroy stain resist treatments.
  6. To expedite drying, the carpet should be removed from the tack strip and the carpet padding (carpet cushion) always should be discarded. Carpet should be elevated and fans should be utilized to speed drying time. In circumstances where high humidity may delay drying time, dehumidifiers should be secured to assist in drying out the environment.

Unsanitary Flooding

If the water can be identified as unsanitary, there are few safe options. Anytime the water intrusion is a result of water with some degree of contamination, the water source can be classified as unsanitary. Examples of unsanitary water intrusion include dishwasher overflows, toilet overflows with urine present, punctured water beds, or other water sources that may contain biopollutant contamination. It is recommended the carpet be discarded due to bacterial concerns. If the decision is made to restore the carpet, disinfectants must be used to protect human health. In situations associated with unsanitary water intrusion, the primary concern should be protecting public health. The classification of unsanitary water versus black water contamination is dependent upon time. Unsanitary water that is left untreated for significant periods can change from unsanitary to black.

In dealing with unsanitary water sources, you must always assume there is a significant threat to human health. Rubber gloves, boots, goggles, and other protective clothing should be used. Anyone with cuts or open sores should avoid contact with the flood waters.

Black Water

Black water can be described as any water that contains raw sewage. Sea water and any water that comes in contact with the ground may also be classified as black water. Black water is considered highly unsanitary. This type of flooding can produce serious health effects. When black water is involved in flooding situations the facility must be evacuated to protect public health. All floor covering materials must be discarded and other surfaces should be carefully evaluated. It is recommended that all porous surfaces are removed and discarded. The facility should be evacuated by inhabitants until the environment can be returned to pre-flood conditions. Worker safety precautions similar to those utilized in dealing with unsanitary water should be used for black water.

Carpet Warranty

Regardless of the flooding type, all carpet manufacturers typically void any existing warranty (see carpet warranty) that may have been in effect at the time of the flood. While many insurance companies insist that carpet performance is unaffected by flood damage, this is not always the case. The lamination strength of the synthetic latex is usually weakened by excessive moisture and may affect long term carpet performance.

If you are a water damage restorer and want to be listed in our no-charge water damage restorer directory, please follow this link to our water damage restorer enrollment.

Guidelines for Response to Clean Water Damage within 24-48 Hours to Prevent Mold Growth*

Books and papers

  • For non-valuable items, discard books and papers.
  • Photocopy valuable/important items, discard originals.
  • Freeze (in frost-free freezer or meat locker) or freeze-dry.

Carpet and backing - dry within 24-48 hours§

  • Remove water with water extraction vacuum.
  • Reduce ambient humidity levels with dehumidifier.
  • Accelerate drying process with fans.

Ceiling tiles

  • Discard and replace.

Cellulose insulation

  • Discard and replace.

Concrete or cinder block surfaces

  • Remove water with water extraction vacuum.
  • Accelerate drying process with dehumidifiers, fans, and/or heaters.

Fiberglass insulation

  • Discard and replace.

Hard surface, porous flooring§ (Linoleum, ceramic tile, vinyl)

  • Vacuum or damp wipe with water and mild detergent and allow to dry; scrub if necessary.
  • Check to make sure underflooring is dry; dry underflooring if necessary.

Non-porous, hard surfaces (Plastics, metals)

  • Vacuum or damp wipe with water and mild detergent and allow to dry; scrub if necessary.

Upholstered furniture

  • Remove water with water extraction vacuum.
  • Accelerate drying process with dehumidifiers, fans, and/or heaters.
  • May be difficult to completely dry within 48 hours. If the piece is valuable, you may wish to consult a restoration/water damage professional who specializes in furniture.

Wallboard (Drywall and gypsum board)

  • May be dried in place if there is no obvious swelling and the seams are intact. If not, remove, discard, and replace.
  • Ventilate the wall cavity, if possible.

Window drapes

  • Follow laundering or cleaning instructions recommended by the manufacturer.

Wood surfaces

  • Remove moisture immediately and use dehumidifiers, gentle heat, and fans for drying. (Use caution when applying heat to hardwood floors.)
  • Treated or finished wood surfaces may be cleaned with mild detergent and clean water and allowed to dry.
  • Wet paneling should be pried away from wall for drying.

* If mold growth has occurred or materials have been wet for more than 48 hours, consult Table 2 guidelines. Even if materials are dried within 48 hours, mold growth may have occurred. Items may be tested by professionals if there is doubt. Note that mold growth will not always occur after 48 hours; this is only a guideline.

These guidelines are for damage caused by clean water. If you know or suspect that the water source is contaminated with sewage, or chemical or biological pollutants, then Personal Protective Equipment and containment are required by OSHA. An experienced professional should be consulted if you and/or your remediators do not have expertise remediating in contaminated water situations. Do not use fans before determining that the water is clean or sanitary.

† If a particular item(s) has high monetary or sentimental value, you may wish to consult a restoration/water damage specialist.

§ The subfloor under the carpet or other flooring material must also be cleaned and dried. See the appropriate section of this table for recommended actions depending on the composition of the subfloor.

Did you know?

Carpet water damage can be one of the frustrating occurrences for any homeowner. In most case, the insurance provider will choose to restore the flood damaged carpet, but the carpet manufacturer will void all carpet warranty following flood damage.

In This Section
Water Damage Restoration Links
Water Damage FAQs
Water Damage Restorer Listing Form
Colorado Water Damage Restorers
Maryland Water Damage Restorers
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